tv Talk to Al Jazeera Al Jazeera April 4, 2015 6:00pm-6:31pm EDT
>> love, love, love this man. he is beyond, beyond. he's a lawyer, sculpts, plays every instrument, rides horses, dives, a renaissance man. >> the music of "ghostbusters" "foot loose", all carrying his mark, the last whitney houston. >> she was amazing. she just ripped it out. there was no vocal exercises. she was a troubled girl. >> david foster is not only working with the stars, but runs a foundation for children awaiting organ donations. >> i can still tell you katy and sharon had heart transplants when they were 7. i watched her get married. he has children of his own ex-wives. children. as you may have read, i've been married a few times, it's a big blended family, and anyone with
a blended family knows it's not easy. we are figuring it out. >> i spoke to david foster at electric ladies studios in new york. when you take a moment, looked back on your career, and when you did that last, what words come to mind. >> i mow i was given a gift, a god-given gift, and i think i used it well. i, like most successful people - mondays, and wednesdays, and fridays, i wake up thinking i'm the greatest thing. tuesdays and thursday, i think i have not accomplished anything and there's so much to do, and is that all there is, i'm a fraud. ands sundays i don't thing about it. maybe that's the formula. i don't rest on my laurels. >> that's interesting.
it's a question i had for you. when you look on the music you created, starting in the '070, do you think okay, i can - i have done so much. do i really need to grind away. are you still on the grind? >> i'm incredibly on the grind. i came to new york, i'm going to la today, to europe to work on andrea bocelli album, and i'll go to asia for "asia's got talent," be there for two weeks, and back working on j-lo's christmas record. it's what i love to do. >> why do you work that hard even now? >> life is short. there's so much i want to do, and so much more to do. i'm working on a broad way play, "betty boop," that i'm here today to have a meeting with. there's so much to do in this life, and i want to squeeze the last drop out of it, because you're dead for a long time. >> yes, for sure.
sadly true. >> yes. >> let's do a bit of the biographical sketch. did you play at five. >> i did. i don't think it's unusual if you show talent. i had parents that were nurturing and not too pushy. that was brill. >> i haven't heard you talk too much about your parents, what start did they give you? >> my father was an amateur piano player. they taught me. they allowed me to do classical lesson. we didn't have money, but we weren't poor. i had a great upbringing. i had six sisters, my mother was a homemaker, my father worked hard. i had a great work ethic. i had a perfect upbringing. >> first song you learnt on the piano, the first song. now i'm taking you back. was... >> okay. >> and i thought i was so cool doing that.
>> the man jump up. what chord is that. >> like a c-6-9. "wonderful world up there." >> really. >> we table beside -- talked about that. had. >> did you form your first band or join it. >> we formed it. i was the guy 12, 13, making money on the weekends, organising the band, making the phone calls, calling the wedding person, getting the gig. knocking on the door. i would knock and say i'm here to talk about your daughter's wedding and they'd say "i thought you were the paper boy." i was always like that. >> and a big leap to creating your own music. when did you know at what age you had that definite? >> it was quite late. there was a school teacher in the fifth grade that gave me a b in music.
and i said what do i need do to get an a. she said you need to write your on song and sing it. i did that, she still gave me a b. i don't know why. it turned me off. so i didn't start to write until late. >> what was your first song? >> well, the first hit that i - first hit that i wrote was a co-write with a friend of mine . >> cheryl lynn. >> the map knows his stuff. . >> right. mid '70s i started to write seriously but didn't get on the hit train until '78. >> what was the first moment when you heard the cheryl lynn song, when you heard the first hit on the radio. >> 1973, skylor, and "wildflower" that was a hit. i was the leader of the group.
strange, you work on a song for four months in the studio, and you hear it 1,000 times, and you sit in the car and you turn the dial until you find it on the radio, like it will sound different. you heard it, but there's something about it coming over magic. >> part of that is you are in a room like this. i'm curious whether you are more surprised by the hits or misses you had. >> you are in the room, creating, you hear the miss and you are like wow, that works. maybe it doesn't. or, yes, that's going to work, and it does. >> yes. well, the real mystery is that you can do it and it works, and you do it again and it works, and you do it again and it works, and do it again and it fails. you do the same thing, putting time and effort into it and it fails. no one wants to hear it or buy it.
it confuses you, but you keep going. but it confuses you. >> can we play the name game? >> yes, let's do it. >> andrea bocelli. >> jimmy carter. >> jimmy carter, president of the united states. peanut farmer from georgia. okay. just because it's such a... >> it's a voi. >> can we start with andrea bocelli. >> andrea bocelli. singer. >> come on. >> i swear. love, love, love this man. he's beyond beyond. he's a lawyer. he sculpt, plays every instrument, rides horses, swims, dives, wind surfs. he's a renaissance man. >> what is it in his vocal quality, approach to music that makes him the greatest? >> he walks in both worlds. he's the most knowledgeable classical person i know. more than lang lang my friend the piano plash.
he can sit at the piano and play a beetles seconding or pick up the guitar and play a creedance clearwater guy or sing an opera that you or i knew. that was not a short answer. >> that's all right. i don't want short, i want expansive david foster. i think of the other amazing voices that you have worked with, and a couple of names - whitney houston. houston. >> i was between whitney houston and celine. now. >> great voices. it's worthy of saying this. celine was so amazing because whatever i asked her to do she'd do exactly what i wanted. like, i would cop up with a lick in my -- come up with a lick in my sound, she understood and delivered. whitney - she'd never give me what i wanted ever. she would give me something better than i asked or many
times it would be worse. it's not what i wanted. but a lot of times it was better than what i asked for. >> what a loss. what are your thoughts on whitney houston not being on this planet singing? left a trove, a treasure trove of great songs. >> yes. i feel so honoured that i caught her at that moment of - you could argue "the body guard" was not her best album, i would say "i will always love you" was the love song. that's what she was most remembered for. >> a dolly pardon song i'm. >> yes. that. >> i did, and i wrote "i have nothing", for her, which was fun. she was amazing. she was a race horse, she'd rip her jacket off, come in the studio and go. no vocal exercises. she was a troubled girl. as i read she was troubled long before i met
her. and that. struggled with her life. if you gave me a list of 100 singers and said which one will go, she wouldn't be at the bottom of the list. >> wow. in "hitman" your terrific show. >> makes me smile. >> well, it should. >> it was my funeral when i was alive. it was pretty cool. >> stop. you played tribute to a hero of mine, maurice white. what is the importance of earth, wind and fire to your career. >> it's a kind of two fold, and i just give you a peak into the - my little sole. when i was in skylark, the singer in skylark, a great guy was not a fan of mine particularly. he was a huge fan of earth, wind and fire. when the group broke up. i thought i want to work with earth, wind and fire, it will be
my mission and goal to get to earth, wind and fire. >> why is that? >> when he turned me on to the group i loved then. i made it the goal. he was in my head saying "you'll never work with earth, wind and fire." i got there. every art. >> from usher to prince is on though tree. >> is on the tree from earth, wind and fire. >> yes, the gap band. all came from earth, wind and fire. maybe that came from sly a little. but maurice was fierce. he was fierce. >> "after the love has gone", soul. >> got to tell the story. i was sitting in an officers playing an album that i want the artist signed. he didn't like the album. i bsed him saying this is not the whole album, i have more songs. he said "like what."
i said "like this." i swear to you, i went to the piano, and it fell out. i was totally lying, i had no songs. i went over and wept ♪ oh ♪ ♪ after the love has gone ♪ ♪ what used to be right ♪ ♪ is wrong ♪ ♪ can lovers lost be found ♪ time. >> come on back over, that's how it fell out of you. >> he was what was that, it's better than anything on the record. maurice white had the same reaction to that song. >> what are the significant changes in the business that you chartered in your open career? >> the biggest change in our business was the cd, that was our television high def moment. television in the high def and everywhere had to buy a high defcd. when the c.d. came along everyone had to replace their albums with c.d.
music was $40 billion, now it's $8 billion. do the maths. 8-12% drop since the year 2000. i like to say the music business is doing great, the record business is in trouble. kids think it's their right to own - to listen to music for free. more importantly kids don't want to own, feel or touch. they don't want to own, they want to play. >> that's what we enjoy. they want to click a button. >> and listen op here. >> we are in a beautiful studio making it sound incredible. they never feel or hear that or touch that. >> more to come. most know david foster as the hitman. coming up, find out what he find more rewarding than any number one hit. >> america's first climate refugees
>> this is probably a hurricane away from it being gone. >> who's to blame? >> 36% of land lost was caused by oil and gas industry... >> ...and a fight to save america's coastline. >> we have kinda made a deal with the devil >> fault lines al jazeera america's hard hitting... >> today they will be arrested... >> ground breaking... they're firing canisters of gas at us... award winning investigative documentary series... the disappearing delta only on al jazeera america >> part of al jazeera america's >> special month long evironmental focus fragile planet
>> "the stream". >> your digital community. >> you pick the hot topics and express your thoughts. "the stream", it's your chance to join the conversation. tuesday to friday, 3:30 eastern. only on al jazeera america. i'm tony harris, and this is "talk to al jazeera", and i'm foster. >> look, i want to talk about
the charity work. what is the stat here. in the past 27 years, the david foster foundation assisted close to 1,000 families with children in need of major organ transplants. how did you come to this work? >> it was a personal moment that came to me about 30 years ago. i was late to the charity world. 30 years ago, i was 35. my friends wayne gretsky and andre agassi, they were 25, i thought i better get on the train to give back. >> you were really blessed. at that point... >> absolutely. it's corny, but it's your responsibility. and i had a personal encounter with a young girl who needed a liver transplant and didn't make it. all she wanted was to see her sister, so for the price of an airline ticket i got her sister to come tos los angeles.
-- to los angeles much it's rewarding. i have done 60-70 concerts for my foundation. we are raising millions, first year, $45,000. it's just when you look at a family and you get a letter from a family saying you literally saved our marriage, the sibling's lives, because the siblings get forgot, all the attention goes to the sick child. understandably. the siblings - they get forgotten. so when you get a letter like that, you saved our family, could there be anything better than that? in the early days i knew the name of every child. i can tell you katie luxton, shannon glass, got heart-lung transplants when they were seven. i watched katie luxton get married. she was seven when we helped her. now, with so many families, i dope know all the families -- don't know all the families, we have employees, and it's a big
job, consuming probably a quarter of my life which means i'm working three-quarters in the music of. >> yes. what is the joy for you away - maybe it's family, i don't know. what is the real joy for you? >> the joy for me is when i find peace of mind, you know. again, it's a corny answer. i'm not that guy that looks at the sun set and writes a song, sorry to say. >> where does the motivation come from? >> it comes from it's a job. i know it's unromantic. it's a job. i know when i get together with michael buble, we'll do something good. okay, mike, tuesday, 10 o'clock, let's get together. something goodwill come out of it. it may not be a hit. i love my family and the children. as you may have read, i've been married a few times. it's a big blended family. anyone out there that has a blended family nose what i'm talking about, it's not that easy. we are figuring it out.
works. >> still ahead - david foster turns sunrise >> al jazeera america brings you a first hand look at the environmental issues, and new understanding of our changing world. >> it's the very beginning >> this was a storm of the decade >>...hurricane... >> we can save species... >> our special month long focus, fragile planet
so when the album was finished we were done, finished. ernie said there's a movie "summer lover's, would you write a song. we sat down, it was like "after the love was gone", i go - peters says "i like that." and the best stuff comes fast, it always comes fast. we finished the song, it was a number one hit. >> yes. >> but the - the weird thing was we went to the movie, we were so excited to be in the movie. it's the end title. peter gallagher, and darryl hannah, we were at the premier, the start of the seconding. there's a motorcycle in the distance, as he sings ♪ everybody needs a little . >> the motorcycle gets louder and louder. by the time we are at the second, the motorcycle is louder than the song. >> you are dying. >> we are like "what?
who in the world thinks the sound of a motorcycle is more important?" we were bummed out. >> great song. >> great song. peter. >> a few. >> yes. >> this one we did for karate kid. [ ♪♪ ] ♪ i am a man who would fight for your honour ♪ i'll play a song i never include when i do a concert. i don't think people know it. i can't sing "and i keep wondering ♪ ♪ whose holding on now ♪ ♪ and i keep wondering ♪ ♪ whose holding ♪ ♪ nothing i do ♪ ♪ should be in your arms ♪ . >> yeah, i know the kong. -- song. debarge. >> yes.
we are talking about your sound tracks. "st elmo's fire." >> yes. the reason i liked it, for once in my life... [ ♪♪ ] singer. >> right. >> it was great. it was an instrumental hit. curiously, it was - i believe it was the last hit. >> when you perform, what is the one song you have to perform or you will not be allowed off the stage? i know there are a couple of. >> well, the song that always really works - i mean they all work. but the one that i like doing the most is probably the song i did for celine and andrea bocelli, called "the prayer." it goes
[ ♪♪ ] celine and andrea bocelli - two heavenly voices. whitney - i having nothing but good. [ ♪♪ ] >> i asked it earlier, where does the motivation come from. where do the songs come from, david. i mean.... >> i don't know. i really don't know. i would explain it if i could. >> yes. >> i think the best stuff comes through you, not from you. you can say maybe it's all up there for grabs in the universe and it comes through you. right now, if i wrote a song, if you describe anything to me... ..make it slow, it's early. >> it's - let's do - let's do "sun rise."
sitting on the verandah. >> "sun rise." but you want it film score or a pop song. >> i want it it be film score. >> yes. >> yes, yes, yes. >> "sun rise." [ ♪♪ ] we can stop there for a minute. [ ♪♪ ] the sun came up a little more. [ ♪♪ ] and then you could... ..then the strings come in. [ ♪♪ ] whatever that melody comes. >> because at sunrise you think day. >> you know what a guy told me do yourself a favour did take
90 days and get up and watch the sunrise. i've been doing it. it's hard to do in new york. you do something, you look it up. 6. : -- 6:33. and i swear to god 6:33 it comes out of nowhere. >> before i let you go... >> yes. >>..your first grammy - many more to follow - was for "after the love." >> you have no notes. you're a freak. >> no, i'm telling you - i should have houses because of all the money i spent on your music. your first grammy "after the love has gone", earth wind and fire - 1979, right. >> yes. together. [ singing ] ♪ after the love has gone ♪ ♪ we used to be right is wrong ♪ . >> wonderful david.
>> really enjoyed that. >> thank you, brother. >> terrific stuff. >> not a bad singer. [ laughs ] >> good stuff. thank you, baby. >> this is "techknow," a show about innovations that can change lives. >> the science of fighting a wildfire. >> we're going to explore the inner section of hardware and humanity, and we're doing it in an unique way. this is a show about science by scientists. tonight "techknow" investigates extreme weather. mechanical engineer is in the